Ibrahim Halawa, 18, yesterday marked one full year in jail since he was arrested during a crackdown on peaceful protests in the capital Cairo where he was visiting relatives.
The teenager, from Firhouse in Dublin, began refusing food last Wednesday after a mass trial in which he and 481 other defendants were brought to court ended abruptly when the judge walked out in apparent frustration with the impractical nature of the proceedings.
It is not known when or how they will be brought to court again or if any of them will be informed of the individual charges against them before any legal proceedings commence.
In a letter from jail following last week’s farce, Ibrahim revealed that he and a number of other inmates tried to insist on speaking with the judge who abandoned the trial as they believed he might be able to champion their case for proper legal principles to be followed, but prison guards allegedly responded by beating them.
He has vowed to continue his hunger strike until he is released, and his sisters, three of whom were arrested with him but released after two months, repeated their appeal for international pressure to be put on the Egyptian authorities.
Somaia Halawa told RTÉ it is crucial that the Irish Government and EU step up their efforts. “I hope they are not waiting for something to happen to my brother,” she said. “Ibrahim will not stop this strike. This is his last resort.”
The Irish Ambassador to Egypt, Isolde Moylan, and her officials have met regularly with Ibrahim’s mother and another sister, who are staying in Egypt to support him, and Foreign Affairs Minister Charlie Flanagan
has said he is doing all he can to impress on the Egyptian authorities the importance of a fair trial while not directly interfering with the judicial process of another country.
Among the charges understood to await the group of almost 500 prisoners are murder and attempted murder which carry the death penalty. In the past year other mass trials have resulted in large groups of prisoners being jointly charged and convicted without individual hearings or representation.
Amnesty International and justice charity, Reprieve, have both taken up Ibrahim’s case and are campaigning for his release.